Are you a big fan of 10 year old Harvest Moon titles like I am? Well this is the right place for you!
Over on Twitch, I've been playing one of my favorite games "Harvest Moon: Animal Parade". I've made a couple blog posts both about the game as well as the comic I am making based on the game, but today, I'd like to share with you my tips for playing as efficiently as possible, as well as the quickest path to completing the story to benefit from all the rewards!
Read on to see my tips for having a successful starter ranch! Enjoy the photos taken from my stream during the post.
Your First Day:
On your first day, you are introduced to your home, your ranch, and Mayor Hamilton. After you get through the cute little cutscenes, you will start in your home on Spring 2 at 10:00am. Your buddy Finn wants you to see the Harvest Goddess, which is located in Garmon mines. If you try to go there, a carpenter named Bo will let you know that the bridge is broken, and he needs his toolbox.
I suggest talking to Bo first, then make your way to Harmonica Town. Bo will give you an axe, so you can start chopping some lumber.
In Harmonica Town, go right into the photography studio and meet with Simon. There you will get a camera.
Next, go meet with Mayor Hamilton, who will tell you to go meet with everyone in town. You must do this before grabbing the toolbox. It doesn't take too long, it's just a lot of cutscenes to get through.
There are some tricky spots to meet people, so go to each building in town first. Then go to the pier to meet the innkeepers, go to the church to meet Perry, Mira and Chase.
Chase will be outside of the church, so run towards the left to unlock his cutscene.
I always forget to go to the church, so don't forget to meet Perry!
Once you meet everyone, Finn will let you know, so head back to the mayor to get the toolbox. If you are quick, you can meet everyone before 17:00 (5pm), which is when Town Hall closes and you'll have to wait until tomorrow.
During your meetings, you will receive:
-3 char from Ozzie
-Cookies from Maya
Before heading to Garmon Mines, go to Flute Fields. There's more people to meet, and more things to get. Feel free to drop off some stuff in your house before heading there; you have limited inventory at the very beginning.
First head down to the river by the watermill, and you'll meet Toby. He will give you a fishing pole so you can start fishing.
Next, head to Marimba farm, where you'll meet Ruth, Craig and Taylor. Taylor will give you 9 cabbage seeds, which you can plant in your farm. If you go back into Marimba Farm, you'll be able to buy things.
Go ahead and buy 1 strawberry and at least 5 grass seeds from Ruth. The strawberry will come in handy later, and the grass seeds are handy for collecting fodder.
Next, head to the Horn Ranch Barn, where Cain will gift you a calf! You can pick whichever one is the cutest and name it.
Next, head into the Horn Ranch shop and pick up some milk and at least 5-10 pieces of fodder to get you started. Hanna will also gift you a sickle.
By the way, you start with 1000g, so by the time you're done buying everything, you may have 100g or less.
You have everything you need from Flute Fields now, so head back up to Garmon Mines and give Bo the toolbox. He will be grateful, but hungry. He conveniently requests a strawberry and some milk, so give those things to him, and he'll get to work repairing the bridge.
By this time, it will start to get dark, so I suggest heading back to your home and taking care of your new calf.
Next you can take a look at your farm and plant the seeds Taylor gave you. Later I'll talk about an efficient way to plant your crops.
There will be some crops there already, including some turnips that are ready to harvest, so place those in the shipping bin so you can make some easy money.
Lastly, I suggest using up almost all your stamina tilling the land with your hoe. This way there will be less of a chance of weeds spawning on your field the next day.
This is, from my experiments, the most efficient first day. It might not go perfect, but if you play the first day (or two) like this, you'll be able to meet the Harvest Goddess very quickly.
How to line up your crops
Before we dive into the storyline of the game, let's talk about how I like to plan out my farm plot.
First, I like to plants my crops in a 3x3 grid space. This means I purchase my seeds in multiples of 9.
Your starter plot is 10x15 in size, letting you have 108 places to plant, spots for 3 trees, and a 1x15 strip on the bottom. I like to plant grass on this bottom strip of land. This will allow you have more than enough fodder for your livestock.
When you first start, you have 5 cherry trees on your plot. Trees take up a 3x3 space, allowing for fruit to drop when you run into the tree during its harvesting season. I suggest keeping these trees until the fall season. Trees take up a lot of stamina to chop down, and you start with very low stamina. The trees will also drop cherries in the summertime, which you can gift to your friends, or sell for good money.
Once fall hits, I suggest chopping down all but 1 of the cherry trees, and then planting new saplings. A good strategy is to keep the last 3x3 area reserved for 3 trees; 2 trees that harvest in the summer, and one in the fall, or vice versa.
For my "Molly" file, I have my starter cherry tree along with an apple tree and a chestnut tree that I planted in the wintertime. The apple and cherry trees will harvest in the summer, and the chestnut in the fall, and the trees will grow during the winter and be ready to harvest by the next summer.
Ring the Red Bell as soon as the first week in Spring
If you're lucky, you can ring the red bell as early as Spring 5. Spring 5 is a Thursday, which is when the Garmon Mines shops are closed, but you can still complete the Red Bell quest if it's not raining. During my stream, I rung the bell on Spring 6.
To unlock the cutscene where Chloe kicks the bell into the chimney, it needs to be a sunny day, and you need to have talked to Ramsey and Owen. Owen will be at floor 10 of the mines, and on your way down to him, try to collect the ore you need for Ramsey.
He requests each of the 4 main ore: iron, silver, copper, and gold. They should be easy to find, but gold may take the longest. If you're lucky, you'll be able to gather it quickly. I suggest going down to floors 7-9 to hunt for the ore. Mining is completely RNG-based, but it seems like there's a higher chance to collect ore in the deeper levels.
Once you have the ore, unlock the cutscene to get the bell into the chimney, and you can then immediately give Ramsey the ore he needs.
As long as it's before 18:00 (6pm) and you gave Ramsey the ore, you can ring the Red Bell. With this, you can unlock a lot of different things, including a hot spring on your farm that increases stamina!
Materials to gather for later quests:
During your first week, you may run into obstacles that stop you from ringing the first bell, including the weather, the shops being closed, and other things. While you're waiting for that, here's some other storyline quests and side-quests you can plan for:
You can start the Yellow Bell Quest by going to the beaches near your house where the rusty Yellow Bell has washed up on shore. Thankfully, you can restore this bell at night, even if it's raining.
You can enter the big windmill on Flute Fields to start the Green and Blue Bell Quests. You'll have to unlock the entrance to the forest, which requires talking to Cain and Dale.
Plan your day accordingly, and if you're able, you can kill two birds with one stone: Talk to the Harvest Goddess about the rusty bell, get the forest key from Dale, go back to Flute Fields to gather the moonlight for the bell there, and unlock Fugue Forest.
From there you can unlock the character Luke, then unlock the ability to see the Wizard, which will trigger the ability to start collecting materials for the Blue Bell Quest.
Keep one of the potatoes from your starter crops and save it until fall; once you start the circus side-quest, one of the items you'll need is a veggie pizza, which requires a potato, tomato, and a bell pepper. Marimba farm doesn't sell potato seeds for a while, so it's good to keep one in your fridge. Luckily food doesn't rot. :3
If you're walking around Harmonica Town, you will see a cutscene with Shelly where she offers to increase your rucksack. For this, you'll need wool and 10 green herbs.
During your walks from each district, be sure to collect green herbs along the way. You can buy the wool from Horn Ranch once you save up your money too.
You will also need to start growing lettuce on your farm. Ruth will require 10 good or better lettuce to continue the Yellow Bell Quest, so the sooner you can get that planting, the better.
I suggest buying more than 10 lettuce seeds because you will most likely get decent lettuce, which won't work. But you can sell them for profit.
Once you have enough money saved up, purchase a lamb and either a chicken or a duck, along with an incubator and a butter maker. This should set you up to be able to ring the first 4 bells by the start of summer. You'll also be able to pay the mayor back by the end of spring/early summer too.
Note: This game, and like other Harvest Moon games, are completely open. This guide is made to show how you can go through the plot quickly and have a successful ranch. While I like to unlock things in the game as fast as I can, feel free to go at your own pace! There are many different ways to go about the game, and you don't have to play this way. Only if you want to!
At the start of the game, your biggest money makers will be your crops, foraging, and mining.
I suggest investing a lot of your money into buying seeds. Seeds don't cost as much as in other Harvest Moon games, and you can definitely make a great profit from selling your crops. Your livestock will not grow up until mid/end of spring, so spend the most of your time maintaining your crops, making sure to buy fertilizer when you can, and weeding.
I also suggest tilling your entire starter plot, even though it will drain your stamina. This will decrease your chance of spawning weeds, and you can start planning out your fields as well. You may not be able to afford to fill your entire plot with crops right away, but plan accordingly, and make use of the crops that regrow, even if they're a little more expensive.
Another potential money maker is mining. After you ring the red bell, talk to Mira and she will reopen the Accessory shop. This allows you to refine any ores/wonderfuls you find in the mine. She will charge 35g for each piece, which is pretty good, and the cost of refining is worth it when you are able to sell the expensive jewels.
I suggest accumulating a lot of ore/wonderfuls before refining them. Refining is completely random, and you have a higher chance of getting lucky with diamonds if you have a lot of white wonderfuls as opposed to only 1. Most jewels sell really well, so sell them upfront for now, and keep the metals (iron, copper, silver, gold, rare metal) so you can upgrade your tools later.
During all of this time of ringing the bells, be sure to talk to the villagers and start making friends! Once you reach 3 hearts with someone, you become their friend and they tell you a wish of theirs. This is important for the Purple Bell Quest.
In order to make friends you can talk to them, give them gifts, or use the motion controls to "rub" them. Each character has a set dialogue for each heart level, and you can tell if you've reached a new heart level if they say something new. Most characters will also have generic dialogue pertaining to the bells, the weather, or asking if you're doing okay. If it's a dialogue you haven't seen before, you may have gotten another heart with them!
Giving gifts is very important. Every character has gifts they love, gifts they like, and gifts they DON'T like. Try your best to give them gifts they love if you can. If you're unsure of what they like, check your friends panel and select that character for a hint.
Some characters may be harder to please than others, so here's some easy ones:
Some easy friends to make are Perry, Anissa, Candace, and Jin. These characters like green tea and herbal tea, which only require 1 herb/tea leaf in a pot. Easy!
Another easy friend is Luna; she likes Sakura seashells that you can find on the beach.
If you want to befriend Phoebe early on, gift her either rare ore or Fugue mushrooms; most of her favorite gifts are buckwheat recipes, which you won't have access to until the wintertime. These two gifts are obtainable early in the game. Witch and Wizard also like Fugue mushrooms.
If you want to befriend Toby, Ozzie, Paolo, or Renee, they all love any fish recipes, including raw fish you just caught on the beach! Easy recipes include clam soup, which only requires one clam, sashimi, and sea urchins.
If you give a gift on someone's birthday, you will receive extra points if it's something they really love. You can check what each character's birthday is on your friends panel.
Falling in Love
Pick a guy/girl you want to marry! If you have your heart set on someone, be sure to talk to them everyday and give them gifts they like. It's worth it to make friends with all of the eligible candidates; if you want everyone to confess to you and unlock all their cutscenes, get each one up to 7 hearts, and they will confess to you. At that point, you can pick your favorite and pursue them more. Just know that if you accept a confession, it will lower the other candidates by one heart.
If you don't want to be a heart breaker, choose one person to pursue, and avoid their rival!
Here are the rival couples:
Gill & Luna
Julius & Candace
Toby & Renee
Jin & Anissa
Owen & Kathy
Luke & Selena
Chase & Maya
Calvin & Phoebe
In this game, marriage candidates will marry each other if left to their own devices. If your girl character makes friends with a bachelorette, she will marry her respective bachelor and vice versa if you're playing a boy. In my "Molly" playthrough, I am pursuing Luke, so I talk to him and give him gifts as much as I can. I also avoid Selena, my rival, but I did get her up to 5 hearts. Oops!
At 7 hearts, you unlock the ability to see a cutscene with the rival couple where they propose to each other. At that point, it's impossible to marry that character. So be careful!
After the 1st year
If you follow these tips, you should be able to complete the storyline and get married all within the first year. After that, it's up to you! Have fun playing the game in the newly restored town, enjoy married life, and eventually, you and your spouse will have children. You should be on your way to having a successful ranch!
I want to plug this website. I use this site all the time when I play, and it's been a big help in planning "Molly's Ranch Story" as well. It's an old site; it's been up since I started playing the game 10 years ago, but it also has guides for other Harvest Moon titles, even the new ones.
I hope you enjoyed this rather long guide to starting out with "Harvest Moon: Animal Parade". I know too much about this game, and I have a lot of passion for it! If you have any questions, comments, anything to say, let me know!